Cardamoms, popularly known as (choti elaichi /elaichi /ilaichi) in Hindi, (Aelakka, Aelakkayu, Aelam, Elathari) in Malayalam, ‘Elakkai‘ in Tamil, ‘Yelakulu‘ in Telugu, (Elakki, Yalakki) in Kannada, (Ilaychi, Ilaychi, ililaychi) in Gujarati and (Hirvi velchi, Velchi, Veldoda, Wailchi) in Marathi.
Cardamoms are an exotic spice from India. Warm, fragrant and mysterious it has a unique and pleasant fragrance. It is inseparable from Indian sweets. It also plays a pivotal role in the Indian cuisine. Have you ever wondered if cardamom is all fragrance and no substance? You will literally have to break open the pods to discover the plethora of health benefits it has to offer! What is cardamom and why is it so important? They come from cardamom plants in India and are part of our ancient heritage. Its medicinal properties have been mentioned in Ayurveda.
Let us look at the health benefits. Cardamom is an important ingredient in cooking dishes all around the world today. Belonging to the ginger family, this spice is used in desserts, tea, coffee and many more delicious dishes (1).
Types Of Cardamom:
There are two main types of cardamom based on the color (2), Each type has got a distinct personality flavor wise.
1. Green Cardamom:
Mostly grown in South India, this variety comprises of fat green pods and is the most superior quality of cardamom available. It is available in pod as well as in powder form. The whole pod has a good shelf life and can retain the aroma of the seeds.
- It is used to flavor both savory and sweet dishes.
- This fragrant spice is added to rich curries and milk based preparations.
- Tea and coffee are also spiced with cardamom.
- It is even used in spiced cakes and breads.
2. Brown Cardamom:
This variety is characterized by pods that are larger in size than the green cardamom and have a hairy texture. They resemble tiny fibrous coconuts.
- It is used only in savory dishes like biryani and curries.
- They are also an essential ingredient in garam masala (blend of spices).
- The dark brown seeds are known for their medicinal value, particularly due to the presence of carbohydrates, protein, moisture, volatile oil, crude fiber, phosphorus, calcium and iron.
- The volatile oil comprises of cineol, terpinene, limonene, sabinene and terpineol in the form of formic and acetic acid.
3. Ground Cardamom:
This is obtained by crushing the cardamom using a mortar and pestle to form cardamom powder. It is used as a flavoring in several dishes. It has fewer flavors than the whole pods and is readily available at grocery stores.
Health Benefits of Cardamom:
Cardamom is an antispasmodic spice which can help you in getting rid of hiccups. It provides relief from involuntary muscle spasms, like intestinal and stomach cramps (3).
Cardamoms are known to detoxify the body. They are rich in minerals and vitamins like Vitamin A, B, C, niacin, riboflavin etc. It is a great blood purifier and removes excess urea, calcium and other toxins from the kidney. This is specially a home remedy used post delivery (4)
Many of the phytonutrients, vitamins and essential oils which are present in cardamom act as antioxidants. This magical spice helps in cleaning up the free radicals and tends to resist cellular aging (5).
[ Read: How to Make Aloe Vera Juice at Home ]
Though the real science behind the anti-depressant qualities of this spice has not been studied yet, Ayurvedic practitioners firmly believe that the cardamom tea is a perfect way to fight depression. It has a natural ingredient which tends to detoxify the body and rejuvenate the cells which altogether help in fighting depression (6).
5. Cold and Flu:
Cardamom is a pungent spice which tends to help in preventing and relieving cold and flu symptoms. Cardamom is a good home remedy for cold and flu (7). Just make cardamom tea, consume and your headache and cold will be gone in a jiffy.
People having infections are suggested to consume cardamom which is known to prevent infections due to its therapeutic properties. The various essential oils in cardamom inhibit the growth of bacteria, viruses, mold and fungus (8).
[ Read: Cardamom Tea Benefits ]
7. Bad breath/Oral Health:
Cardamom is a cure for bad breath. Apart from its trait that helps in curing bad breath, cardamom is also used for mouth ulcers and mouth infections (9). Chew a couple of cardamom seeds and it solves your breath problem (halitosis)
Cardamom is considered to be highly beneficial for asthma patients. It also acts as a natural remedy for whooping cough and bronchitis (10).
9. Improves Appetite:
Add some ground cardamom to your curry or chew some of its seeds to improve your appetite.
10. Alleviates Digestive Issues:
Cardamom seeds are the best solution for indigestion, belching and flatulence problems. Cardamom helps improve your digestion of food.
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